Head Injury – Concussion – ER or Urgent Care?
Should I go to the ER or Urgent Care?
Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are of great concern amongst the medical community, as numbers suggest these types of injuries contribute to about 30% of all injury deaths.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there some 2.8 million TBI-related emergency room visits per day, and 153 people in the United States die every day from injuries that include traumatic brain injuries.
Given how big this problem is, we should ask ourselves when does a head injury require emergency medical attention, and can these be treated at an urgent care center or should we go to the ER?
Let’s start with understanding what a Traumatic Brain Injury is.
What Is a TBI and What Causes It?
As may have guessed, a traumatic brain injury involves injuries to our head, it can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head and it is strong enough to create a disruption to the brain’s normal functioning. Thankfully, not all bumps to the head result in a TBI, and those don’t require you visit the emergency room.
Traumatic Brain Injuries range from “mild” where there is a brief change of mental status or consciousness to severe where patients are unconscious for an extended period or present symptoms like memory loss. Mild TBI’s are known as concussions, and they are the most common type of brain injury.
This does not mean that concussions can be ignored, any type of brain injury regardless of how harmless it may seem requires immediate medical attention.
Can Traumatic Brain Injuries Be Treated at an Urgent Care Center?
The answer is no, and here is why. The severity of a traumatic brain injury is difficult if not impossible to diagnose without the use of CT Scans, and X-rays, the blow might have caused a small skull fracture that is not visible, or there might be swelling around the brain.
Since urgent care centers do not have direct access to the necessary diagnostic equipment, they cannot treat these types of injuries. If you suspect you may have a concussion or other type of brain injury and you visit an urgent care center, they will refer you to the emergency room, and you will have to pay for both consultations.
If you believe you or a loved one has sustained any type of brain injury, you need to come to the nearest Altus Emergency Center as soon as possible. Getting diagnosed and treated for a brain injury promptly can significantly reduce any permanent or long-lasting effects from the injury.
When Should You Visit Altus Emergency Centers for a Head Injury?
As we mentioned, not all head bumps will require you pay us a visit, however, if you receive a blow to the head either from playing sports, falling, or being in a car crash, and experience any of the following symptoms, you need to come in for a medical evaluation as soon as possible:
- You lost consciousness at the time of the injury
- You feel confused or disoriented after the injury
- You experience a headache along with nausea or vomiting
You should monitor anyone who has hit their head and bring them in for evaluation if you notice any of these symptoms:
- Unusual behavior or confusion
- Their symptoms seem to progress or worsen
- They seem weak, complain of numbness or have trouble speaking (slurred speech)
- They have difficulty with their eye movements
- Their headache won’t go away or becomes more severe
- They have difficulty waking up or staying alert
- There is discharged of clear fluid or blood from their nose or ears
As you can see, all brain injuries are dangerous as they can quickly develop complications. For this reason, if you suspect that you or someone you know has a traumatic brain injury, your best bet is to visit the nearest Altus Emergency Center for a proper diagnosis and fast treatment.
Know Where to Go In the Event of an Emergency
If you are ever in need of quality emergency care, you will not have to wait in line at Altus Emergency Centers. All of our ERs are fully equipped and open 24/7.
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